Pun, sometimes referred to as Shaktiram Pun, a correspondent for the Nepalese-language daily Rajdhani, was abducted by Maoist rebels between November 16 and 20 in the midwestern district of Rukum, according to local journalists and the human rights group Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC). Pun was abducted along with six others following the arrests of five Maoist cadres in the district, which is a rebel stronghold. Local journalists told CPJ that Pun may have been targeted for abduction because of his writing about Maoist activities and local resentment toward the rebels.
In early December, local members of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists met with Maoist cadres to appeal for Pun’s release.
On December 12, the Royal Nepalese Army rescued Pun from Maoist captivity but continued to hold him in custody, according to INSEC. An army spokesman said that Pun would be released after questioning, but Pun remained in detention at year’s end.
Journalists reporting on the conflict between Maoist rebels and security forces in the western, rural districts of Nepal are especially vulnerable to harassment, intimidation, and attack from both sides.